Most four-bay NAS drives use a front-loading design, but the TS-453mini loads drives from the top. This makes it slightly easier to swap drives in and out, but it means you can’t easily pick it up by the lid, which is simply a magnetic cover that comes away in your hands.
Functionally, there’s something here to tempt every type of user. The initial setup process asks whether you’re a home or business user; this seems only to affect whether the media applications are installed by default, however, and they can be manually added later anyway. The web interface is exactly the same for either business or home, and there’s also an HDMI port on the rear so you can use it as a media player.
The lid isn’t lockable, which might be a concern for business users, but the tool-free rails make it a doddle to add disks or swap out a faulty drive. There’s no LCD on the front to provide extra information, but the web setup proved to be pretty painless. There’s a utility for this, but you can simply find the IP address of the device and point a browser at it – the rest is just a few clicks and tickboxes.
The web-management menu provides an iPhone-like array of icons to access the various functions. Once you delve into the control panel, there’s a lot of detailed configuration available. RAID levels include 6 and 5 + hot spare, as well as the 0, 1, 10 and 5 options you’d expect from a four-bay NAS device. You can migrate between RAID levels without losing data, and there’s support for a comprehensive range of network protocols. There’s a whole host of mobile apps for iOS and Android too, from which you can manage the NAS, download files, and view content.
If you’ve chosen the consumer option, the TS-453mini will have apps for photo, music and video sharing, as well as for taking advantage of the HDMI port. There’s built-in antivirus too, and the unit will act as storage for a network IP surveillance camera. There’s a huge selection of apps available, including cloud backup support for Dropbox, Google Cloud Storage, various Amazon S3 resellers, Microsoft Azure and a number of others. You can also set it up as a web server for e-commerce platforms including PrestaShop, OpenCart, and Zen Cart. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, phpBB and MediaWiki (as used by Wikipedia) can be installed too.
The TS-453mini isn’t short on features, then, but it also offers an admirable turn of speed, thanks to its quad-core 2GHz Intel Celeron J1900 and 8GB of DDR3 memory (there’s a cheaper 2GB memory version available too). Its write performance with a single large file was impressive indeed at 107MB/sec, and its read speed is the fastest we’ve seen from any four-bay device, at 110MB/sec. If you want a quick backup to huge amounts of RAID5-protected storage, then this device won’t disappoint.
The one downside with the Qnap TS-453mini is its price. At almost £500, it’s pricey when you consider that it comes without any storage. Nevertheless, it has excellent performance, good features and great app extensibility. This is a super-quick and comprehensively specified NAS device.